Rice University
Rice Magazine| The Magazine of Rice University | No. 3 | 2009

New Home for Physics and Astronomy

Imagine your department being divided among six buildings or your researchers having to conduct experiments in the dead of night to avoid disturbances from traffic on nearby streets that could skew results from highly sensitive instruments. Now imagine Brockman Hall for Physics, currently under construction, bringing an end to all that.

One thing you don’t have to imagine is the $11.1 million in federal stimulus funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that will aid in the construction of the new research facility.

Brockman Hall for Physics

“The NIST funding provides not only an impressive and tangible demonstration of the timeliness and importance of the Brockman Hall for Physics building project, but also the culmination of literally years of dedicated work by former dean Kathleen Matthews, Rice project manager Pat Dwyer and others,” said Dan Carson, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences. “This highly significant award will provide the Wiess School and Rice University with much more flexibility in planning and program development at a critical time.”

The NIST funding also will help ensure Rice’s preeminence in research concerning atomic/molecular/optical physics, biophysics, condensed-matter physics, nanomaterials and photonics.

“This new facility will enable Rice to remain on the cutting edge of physical science research.”

“It’s fantastic that NIST has recognized the tremendous opportunities in physics-related research at Rice,” said James Coleman, Rice’s vice provost for research. “This new facility will enable Rice to remain on the cutting edge of physical science research.”

The 110,000-square-foot Brockman Hall for Physics will support research and education in fundamental and applied physics that is of direct relevance to the missions of the U.S. Department of Commerce and NIST. Faculty from Rice’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will occupy the building, which is scheduled to open in spring 2011.

“These are going to be absolutely state-of-the-art facilities,” said Barry Dunning, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “We will be able to do research and not be limited by the available space, vibration, humidity — all the things we’ve had problems with in the past.”

The building is expected to earn silver status under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The architect is KieranTimberlake Associates in Philadelphia. External project management services are provided by Linbeck, and Gilbane Building Company is the construction contractor. The building previously received a naming gift from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust.